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Case TitleELECTRONIC PRIVACY INFORMATION CENTER v. INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE
DistrictDistrict of Columbia
CityWashington, DC
Case Number1:2017cv00670
Date Filed2017-04-15
Date Closed2017-08-18
JudgeJudge James E. Boasberg
PlaintiffELECTRONIC PRIVACY INFORMATION CENTER
Case DescriptionThe Electronic Privacy Information Center submitted a FOIA request to the IRS for Donald Trump's tax returns, arguing that the agency had authority under 6103(k)(3) to disclose such information where necessary to clear up misstatements of fact. The agency told EPIC it would not exercise its authority under (k)(3) to disclose Trump's tax returns. EPIC appealed and the agency upheld its original decision. EPIC then filed suit.
Complaint issues: Litigation - Attorney's fees, Public Interest Fee Waiver

DefendantINTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE
AppealD.C. Circuit 17-5225
Documents
Docket
Complaint
Complaint attachment 1
Complaint attachment 2
Complaint attachment 3
Opinion/Order [18]
FOIA Project Annotation: Judge James Boasberg has ruled that the IRS properly refused to process EPIC's two FOIA requests for President Donald Trump's tax returns because EPIC had not made a proper request in compliance with the agency's regulations, which require a requester to get consent for disclosure of third-party tax returns. EPIC argued that the public interest in disclosure of Trump's tax returns was high and, further, that the agency was required to ask the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation to exercise its authority under § 6103(k)(3) to order the agency to disclose Trump's tax returns. Rejecting both claims, Boasberg explained that "the Internal Revenue Code and various Treasury regulations on FOIA well articulate what must happen for the public release of an individual's private return information. EPIC must either obtain President Trump's consent to initiate a FOIA request or, as the organization itself suggests, convince Congress's Joint Committee on Taxation to sign off on the IRS's disclosure. As neither of these key missing actions can happen in court, Plaintiff's claims must be dismissed." He noted that "absent [third-party consent], a FOIA request for confidential third-party return information is incomplete, exhaustion is wanting, and litigation is premature." He added that "without such consent to release otherwise confidential information, the conclusion of this tax syllogism is plain: EPIC simply has not perfected, or completed, its request, and its FOIA claims must therefore be dismissed for failure to exhaust." Noting that the IRS had never asked the Joint Committee on Taxation to order disclose of tax information, Boasberg pointed out that "the plain terms of [§ 6103(k)(3)], which require congressional approval, foreclose any relief from the exhaustion barrier. In other words, the central problem is that the Joint Committee on Taxation has not approved the disclosure of President Trump's tax returns " and, in fact, it does not appear that it has ever exercised this authority in regard to anyone. Without the Committee's authorization, this potential exception to the consent requirement could not possibly apply, and EPIC's litigation this case remains premature." Boasberg also rejected EPIC's claims under the APA. He observed that since FOIA provided an adequate remedy, the APA did not apply.
Issues: Request - Perfected request
User-contributed Documents
 
Docket Events (Hide)
Date FiledDoc #Docket Text

2017-04-151COMPLAINT against INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE ( Filing fee $ 400 receipt number 0090-4915840) filed by ELECTRONIC PRIVACY INFORMATION CENTER. (Attachments: # 1 Civil Cover Sheet, # 2 Summons U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, # 3 Summons Internal Revenue Service)(Butler, Alan) (Entered: 04/15/2017)
2017-04-152REQUEST FOR SUMMONS TO ISSUE U.S. Attorney General filed by ELECTRONIC PRIVACY INFORMATION CENTER.(Butler, Alan) (Entered: 04/15/2017)
2017-04-153Corporate Disclosure Statement by ELECTRONIC PRIVACY INFORMATION CENTER. (Butler, Alan) (Entered: 04/15/2017)
2017-04-154NOTICE of Appearance by Marc Rotenberg on behalf of ELECTRONIC PRIVACY INFORMATION CENTER (Rotenberg, Marc) (Entered: 04/15/2017)
2017-04-17Case Assigned to Judge James E. Boasberg. (sb) (Entered: 04/17/2017)
2017-04-175SUMMONS (3) Issued Electronically as to INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE, U.S. Attorney and U.S. Attorney General (Attachment: # 1 Consent Form)(sb) (Entered: 04/17/2017)
2017-04-246NOTICE of Appearance by Kieran O'Neill Carter on behalf of INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE (Carter, Kieran) (Entered: 04/24/2017)
2017-04-277RETURN OF SERVICE/AFFIDAVIT of Summons and Complaint Executed as to the United States Attorney. Date of Service Upon United States Attorney on 4/17/2017. Answer due for ALL FEDERAL DEFENDANTS by 5/17/2017. (Butler, Alan) (Entered: 04/27/2017)
2017-04-278RETURN OF SERVICE/AFFIDAVIT of Summons and Complaint Executed on United States Attorney General. Date of Service Upon United States Attorney General 04/21/2017. (Butler, Alan) (Entered: 04/27/2017)
2017-04-279RETURN OF SERVICE/AFFIDAVIT of Summons and Complaint Executed. INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE served on 4/20/2017 (Butler, Alan) (Entered: 04/27/2017)
2017-04-28NOTICE OF ERROR re 7 Summons Returned Executed in FOIA as to U.S. Attorney; emailed to butler@epic.org, cc'd 5 associated attorneys -- The PDF file you docketed contained errors: 1. Incorrect document/case, 2. Please refile document, 3. Incorrect return of service attached; Refile affidavit of mailing as to U.S. Attorney as an attachment to an Errata. (znmw, ) (Entered: 04/28/2017)
2017-04-2810ERRATA by ELECTRONIC PRIVACY INFORMATION CENTER 7 Summons Returned Executed in FOIA as to U.S. Attorney. (Butler, Alan) (Entered: 04/28/2017)
2017-05-1711MOTION for Extension of Time to File Answer re 1 Complaint, , MOTION for Extension of Time to File Other Pleading Responsive to Complaint by INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Carter, Kieran) (Entered: 05/17/2017)
2017-05-17MINUTE ORDER: If Plaintiff objects to Defendant's 11 Motion for Extension, the Court ORDERS that it shall file such opposition by May 22, 2017. Signed by Judge James E. Boasberg on 5/17/17. (lcjeb2) (Entered: 05/17/2017)
2017-05-17Set/Reset Deadlines: Opposition due by 5/22/2017. (nbn) (Entered: 05/17/2017)
2017-05-1812Memorandum in opposition to re 11 MOTION for Extension of Time to File Answer re 1 Complaint, MOTION for Extension of Time to File Other Pleading Responsive to Complaint filed by ELECTRONIC PRIVACY INFORMATION CENTER. (Butler, Alan) (Entered: 05/18/2017)
2017-05-19MINUTE ORDER: The Court ORDERS that Defendant's 11 Motion is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART, and it shall file its response to the Complaint by June 12, 2017. Signed by Judge James E. Boasberg on 5/19/17. (lcjeb2) (Entered: 05/19/2017)
2017-05-19Set/Reset Deadlines: Responses due by 6/12/2017 (nbn) (Entered: 05/19/2017)
2017-06-0913NOTICE of Appearance by Megan Eileen Hoffman-Logsdon on behalf of INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE (Hoffman-Logsdon, Megan) (Entered: 06/09/2017)
2017-06-1214MOTION to Dismiss for Lack of Jurisdiction , MOTION to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim Upon Which Relief Can Be Granted by INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE (Attachments: # 1 Memorandum in Support, # 2 Declaration of Michael C. Young, # 3 Exhibit A - February 16, 2017 FOIA Request, # 4 Exhibit B - March 2, 2017 Letter, # 5 Exhibit C - March 29, 2017 FOIA Request, # 6 Exhibit D - April 6, 2017 Letter, # 7 Text of Proposed Order)(Carter, Kieran) (Entered: 06/12/2017)
2017-06-2615Memorandum in opposition to re 14 MOTION to Dismiss for Lack of Jurisdiction MOTION to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim Upon Which Relief Can Be Granted filed by ELECTRONIC PRIVACY INFORMATION CENTER. (Attachments: # 1 Declaration of John Davisson, # 2 Text of Proposed Order)(Butler, Alan) (Entered: 06/26/2017)
2017-07-0316REPLY to opposition to motion re 14 MOTION to Dismiss for Lack of Jurisdiction MOTION to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim Upon Which Relief Can Be Granted filed by INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE. (Hoffman-Logsdon, Megan) (Entered: 07/03/2017)
2017-08-1817ORDER GRANTING Defendant's 14 Motion to Dismiss. Signed by Judge James E. Boasberg on 8/18/17. (lcjeb2) (Entered: 08/18/2017)
2017-08-1818MEMORANDUM OPINION re 17 Order on Motion to Dismiss. Signed by Judge James E. Boasberg on 8/18/17. (lcjeb2) (Entered: 08/18/2017)
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by FOIA Project Staff